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QNEK Celebrates 20th Season

QNEK Stepping Out as Chorus Line 1STANSTEAD, QUE. / DERBY LINE, VT: QNEK Productions, the International Resident Theatre Company at the Haskell Opera House is celebrating its 20th season – ‘ECLECTICALLY ELECTRIC’! This season premiere of ‘STEPPING OUT’ is being directed by Susan-Lynn Johns and described as ‘a tap-dancing show with two left feet’. This show was written by Richard Harris and produced through special arrangement with Samuel French.

Originally made popular, in 1948, by Fred Astaire, Irving Berlin’s song “Steppin’ Out” has continued to resurface over the years: in 1996, Martin Short and Miss Piggy performed it in a television special and Tony Bennett crooned the tune on MTV Unplugged.While the tune may be familiar, the shenanigans that transpire in this toe-tapping comedy will not even come close to Easter Parade or the Muppet Special. The only similarity to the aforementioned is that this show is UNPLUGGED!

Set in England in the 1980s, the play evolves around eight individuals, from very different backgrounds and with differing motivations, who attend the same weekly tap-dancing class held in a dingy North London church hall. Despite the fact that the students first regarded the classes as social occasions and showing little sign of co-ordination, they eventually develop a level of skill and cohesiveness. The focus of the play is the relationship and interaction among the different students and their teacher Mavis, with dance routines providing the background for the production.

According to the playwright, Richard Harris, the inspiration for the show came from his late wife, actress Hilary Crane: "My wife started her career as a dancer and she liked to ‘keep her foot in’, as it were, so she went down to the local dance class and when she came back she suggested that I should go and have a look as she felt I might find it to be a source of inspiration for a play”. Taking his wife's advice, Harris visited the local church hall, a setting very much like that in the play, where a tap-dance class was in progress.

As it happened, his wife had not been at the tap class but had joined the modern dance group. So it was pure luck that he had happened to look through the window while a tap-dance class was taking place. He had been so struck by the fact that everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, a fact that led him to want to capture this emotional energy into words which he foresaw as a successful play.

After a period of research through attending various dance classes, Harris sat down to write a play. The play reveals the ethos, pathos, humor and uncoordinated lives of an unusual tapestry of personalities. Their inability to dance is but the tip of the iceberg. Can they pull it together by showtime? Mavis (Jenny Dunne) Stepping-Out-Logo1runs the class.  She is an ex-dancer who never quite made it but has never lost her love for the art. Her motley students, 7 women and 1 man, include the very nervous and excitable Dorothy (Lisa Foster McCrae); student nurse Lynne (April Streeter); Jamaican bookkeeper with music in her soul Rose (Brandi Best); unappreciated and unfulfilled Maxine (Anita Morin); the repressed and awkward Andy (Ruth-Ann Fletcher); the OCD fashionista Vera (Michele Streeter); the fast-talking American Sylvia (Sue Kuzma) and the timid shipping clerk Geoffrey (Phil Gosselin). It’s the age-old-scenario of pulling together in order to achieve a common goal, against all odds.The tension is augmented by the ever-cantankerous interjections of Mr. Fraser, the pianist, played by Lynn Leimer.

Show dates are May 3, 4, 10, 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 5 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available at Woodknot Bookshop, catamountarts.org, QNEK Box Office 802-334-2216, or by calling the Haskell Box Office 819-876-2471 CDN/ 802-873-3022 US.  Tickets can also be ordered by going to www.qnek.com.

‘STEPPING OUT’ is being underwritten by Heron’s Path, Community National Bank, Passumpsic Bank, North Country Hospital, Newport Rotary, Fred’s Plumbing and Heating, Paul Decelles Financial Strategies, Derby Village Store, St J Subaru, Hoagies, and Columbia Forest Products.

Additional support is being provided by The Front Desk, Jay Peak Ski Resort, the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, and WhimseyWorks, VT.

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